(iskconnews.org) – Devotees in Arizona have recently opened a home temple and community outreach center called Mantra Oasis on the east side of Tucson. The 3-bedroom house is located in a nice eastside neighborhood that has a very large family room which makes a perfect temple room/gathering hall for guests.
The new Mantra Oasis project was spearheaded by Atula Govinda Dasa and Dr. Erik Vose, with the encouragement of their spiritual master Jivananda Dasa Vanacari, to offer a residential preaching center in that part of the city. “The hope for Mantra Oasis is to further Lord Caitanya’s mission by making as many new sincere devotees as possible and training them up to become ISKCON’s leaders of the future,” remarked Jivananda. This latest project follows the successful Krishna Cove outreach established at the Tucson Temple earlier. “Nine or so years ago, we started Krishna Cove modeled after Krishna Lounge in San Diego – a preaching/outreach program mainly directed towards the younger generation,” said Atula Govinda, “The main purpose of the Mantra Oasis is to help facilitate community building for ISKCON temples. We are organized separately as a 501c3, but we aim to work cooperatively with ISKCON and serve devotees in the community. The setting is very intimate (at a residential home), so with the right mood it seems to facilitate the development of deep relationships between the devotees.”
“We are seeing such wonderful programs opening and flourishing all over the country that complement the temple programs and provide an intimate space for devotees to taste the nectar of Sadhu Sanga,” said one of the leaders, Balarama Shakti Dasa, “We are very happy to have opened such a center in Tucson, and hope that it may serve to inspire many more around the globe!”
Since their opening night, leaders have seen an enthusiastic response from the Tucson area, with twenty-plus attendees each week for their Saturday Love Feast-style program. “It’s quite impressive and shows the strong Western preaching spirit is alive and well in the U.S. I think the devotees will find it enlivening, and it can be an example for others as well,” said Tucson Temple President Sandamini Devi Dasi.
Each program begins with an hour-plus kirtan, then a philosophical discourse, followed by a standing arati, and finally, “potluck-style” prasada. “So far, it has been a great success, much bigger than we imagined with a simple storefront conception,” said Jivananda, “We usually have a near-capacity crowd. Many of them stay late after the program to learn how to do kirtan, play instruments, or practice what they have learned. Many folks just want to discuss their questions regarding our Krishna Conscious philosophy.” Additionally, every Sunday afternoon, devotees host Lilamrta readings as a way to deepen the connection to ISKCON’s founder-acharya, Srila Prabhupada. As the association grows, devotees hope to add additional regular programs on weekdays. “We aim to follow in the footsteps of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s envisionment of Nama Hatta programs – to provide more devotional education programs as well. If any devotees are interested in teaching Bhakti Sastri in Tucson, we would be very excited to help facilitate that as well,” said Atula Govinda. Dr. Voss, a naturopathic physician with an office in Tucson, is also developing the idea of a small clinic on the property.
“The more we all continue to come together in this spirit of becoming living disciples of Srila Prabhupada, following and discussing his instructions, the closer we feel as a community, and the more empowered we become to give this topmost treasure to others,” said Balarama Shakti. “We also are working on starting a kids Bhakti program alongside the main Saturday night Sanga program. In addition, we have a guest room that devotees can reserve for a spiritual retreat,” Atula Govinda added.
To learn more about the center, you can visit their website, or to discuss service collaboration, contact Atula Govinda at (520) 273-2273. Your prayers and financial support are appreciated to help them continue this vital preaching program.
For other programs, events, and initiatives at the ISKCON Tucson Temple, you can see their most recent newsletter.